World Cup 2010: 5 things we learned on Day 1
1) South Africa’s goal was a thing of beauty. The pass was perfect and the strike was true, and to top it off, the celebration was fantastic as well. A great way to start the World Cup.
However if Tshabalala was the hero, Mokoena was the villain. Football is a team game, but to function as a team you need all the individuals to do their job. Mokoena didn’t step out to set ‘the offside trap’ and let Mexico get the equaliser.
2) Why players dive. I’ve highlighted Mokoena’s mistake, but with South Africa 1-0 ahead, Teko Modise was through on goal and pushed down by the Mexican defender. However, he still tried to make a play on the ball and the goalie made the save. If he had simply gone down the referee would have probably awarded a penalty. Instead, Mexico got away with it and it could cost South Africa qualification into the next round.
3) Mexico play pretty, high possession football, lack size and finishing and are vulnerable to the counter attack. Basically, if you are an Arsenal fan, Mexico is your team. Giovani dos Santos is their Cesc Fabregas and has some serious talent. You can see why he almost made it at Barcelona and why Tottenham paid a decent amount of money for him as well. Hopefully he can use the World Cup as a building block and become a star in Europe.
4) People say that Argentina is the team with great players and a crazy manager. However if you look at the squads its France which has arguably the most talented team in the tournament and an even worse manager. However they didn’t show signs of playing with more cohesion than they did in qualification – let’s see what they do against an impressive Mexico.
5) There is always a flop. 21 year old Nicolas Lodeiro was tipped by a few people in the know to be a star of the tournament. He didn’t start against France so when he came on in the second half, I was excited to see if he could help Uruguay to a win. Instead he made two rash challenges and got sent off, meaning Uruguay had to spend the last 10 minutes defending in their own box.
I am now pessimistic about their chances of making it out of the group. Forlan and Suarez are superb forwards but it seems the reason they only finished 5th in South American qualifying was that they don’t have any decent midfielders. Lodeiro was supposed to be the link between defence and attack but is now suspended for the critical game against South Africa.
This post was originally published here.